Shifting Student Mindset
I have some tough nuts to crack, so to speak. All of my school’s 56 middle grades students are considered at risk for one reason or another (many have multiple risk factors) and nearly all of them have had terrible academic experiences. All but a handful are open and loud about their distaste for math and, as a result, there is a clear lack of respect for me (because of my subject) and for mathematical thinking during class. Even after a few months of “Notice & Wonder,” for example, I am still consistently getting responses like “There are numbers,” or “Why do we have to do this again?” Students are argumentative over the simplest instructions and only a handful from each class even meet the expectations for being ready for class each day. We have a PBIS system in place and a targeted school-developed SEL program that we are consistent with, and I have utilized Jo Boaler’s mindset videos as discussion starters throughout the school year. Most of these kids are also resistant to my attempts to build positive relationships with them.
I feel like we have tried all the things. Since completing the online workshop, I have planned and taught five or six lessons using the Making Math Moments framework. Only once in each grade level did I feel a positive shift in student engagement. The next day, it was all gone again.
I guess I am looking for some suggestions to shift my own mindset about at-risk adolescents who detest mathematics as well as ideas to make this mindset shift for students feel possible. I am also looking for some simple ways to get little wins every day.
Hopefully, someone in this community has some experience with this population and can offer some advice!
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